NEW ECHOTA NOV. 12, 1831
It has been customary to charge the failure of attempts heretofore made to civilize and Christianize the aborigines to the Indians themselves. Whence originated the common saying, 'An Indian will still be an Indian.'-Do what you will he cannot be civilized-you cannot reclaim him from his wild habits-you may as well expect to change the spots of the Leopard as to effect any substantial renovation in his character-he is as the wild Turkey, which, at 'night-fall seeks the tallest forest tree for his roosting place.' Such assertions, although inconsistent with the general course of providence and the history of nations, have nevertheless been believed and acted upon by many well meaning persons. Such persons do not sufficiently consider that causes altogether different from those they have been in the habit of assigning may have operated to frustrate the benevolent efforts made to reclaim the Indian. They do not, perhaps, think that as God has, of one blood, created all the nations of the earth, their circumstances, in a state of nature, must be somewhat the same, and therefore, in the history of mankind, we have no example upon which we can build the assertion, that it is impossible to civilize and Christianize the Indian. On the contrary we have instances of nations, originally as ignorant and barbarous as the American natives, having risen from their degraded state to a high pitch of refinement-from the worst kind of paganism to the knowledge of the true God.
We have on more than one occasion remarked upon the difficulties which lie in the way of civilizing the Indians. Those difficulties have been fully developed in the history of the Cherokees within the last two years. They are such as no one can now mistake-their nature is fully revealed, and the source from whence they rise can no longer be a matter of doubt. They are not to be found in the 'nature' of the Indians, which a man in high authority once said was as difficult to change as the Leopard his spots. It is not because they are, of all others, the most degraded and ignorant that they have not been brought to enjoy the blessings of a civilized life.- But it is because they have to contend with obstacles as numerous as they are peculiar. With a commendable zeal, the first Chief magistrate of the United States undertook to bring the Cherokees into the pale of civilization, by establishing friendly relations with them by treaties, and introducing the mechanic arts among them. He was indeed a 'Father' to them.- They regarded him as such.-They placed confidence in what he said, and well they might, for he was true to his promises. Of course the foundation for the improvement which the Cherokees have since made was laid under the patronage of that illustrious man. His successors followed his example and treated their 'red children' as human beings, capable of improvement, and possessing rights derived from the source of all good, and guarantied by compacts as solemn as a great Republic could make. The attempts of those good men were attended with success, because they believed those attempts were feasible and acted accordingly.
Upon the same principle have acted those benevolent associations who have taken such a deep interest in the welfare of the Indians, and who have expended so much time and money in extending the benign influence of religion. Those associations went hand in hand with the Government-it was a work of co-operation. God blessed their efforts. The Cherokees have been reclaimed from their wild habits.-Instead of hunters they have become the cultivators of the soil--Instead of wild and ferocious savages thirsting for blood, they have become the mild 'citizens,' the friends and brothers of the whiteman--Instead of the superstitious heathens, many of them have become the worshippers of the true God. Well would it have been if the cheering fruits of those labors had been fostered and encouraged by an enlightened community! But alas! no sooner was it made manifest that the Cherokees were becoming strongly attached to the ways and usages of civilized life, than was aroused the opposition of those from whom better things ought to have been expected. No sooner was it known that they had learnt the proper use of the earth, and that they were now less likely to dispose of their lands for a mess of pottage, then they came in conflict with the cupidity and self-interest of those who ought to have been their benefactors.-Then commenced a series of obstacles hard to overcome, and difficulties intended as a stumbling block, and unthought of before. The 'Great Father' of the 'red men' as lent his influence to encourage those difficulties. The guardian has deprived his wards of their rights.- The sacred obligations of treaties and laws have been disregarded--The promises of Washington and Jefferson have not been fulfilled. The policy of the United States on Indian affairs has taken a different direction, for no other reason than that the Cherokees have so far become civilized as to appreciate a regular form of Government. They are now deprived of rights they once enjoyed.-A neighboring power is now permitted to extend its withering hand over them.--Their own laws, intended to regulate their society, to encourage virtue and to suppress vice, must now be abolished, and civilized acts, passed for the purpose of expelling them, must be substituted.- Their intelligent citizens who have been instructed through the means employed by former administrations, and through the efforts of benevolent societies, must be abused and insulted, represented as avaricious, feeding upon the poverty of the common Indians-the hostility of all those who want the Indian lands must be directed against them. That the Cherokees may be kept in ignorance, teachers who had settled among them by the approbation of the Government, for the best of all purposes, have been compelled to leave them by reason of laws unbecoming any civilized nation.- Ministers of the Gospel, who might have, at this day of trial, administered to them the consolations of Religion, have been arrested, chained, dragged away before their eyes, tried as felons, and finally immured in prison, with thieves and robbers.'
In not here an array of difficulties?- The truth is, while a portion of the community have been, in the most laudable manner, engaged in using efforts to civilize and christianize the Indian, another portion of the same community have been busy in counteracting those efforts. Cupidity and self-interest are at the bottom of all these difficulties.- A desire to possess the Indian land is paramount to a desire to see him established on the soil, as a civilized man.
CHEROKEES IN JAIL.
Not long since a number of Cherokees were arrested by the Georgia Guard for digging gold. All were released excepting four, who were arraigned before a Justice of the peace and committed by him to jail. We understand they are still in confinement. If they had been without delay brought before Judge Clayton by a writ of Habeas Corpus they would have been discharged. It is now uncertain.- There will be an election for a new Judge at the present session of the legislature of Georgia.-If Clayton should be superseded by someone who will go with the polity of the State, which is more than probable, these Cherokees may yet be sent to the Penitentiary, notwithstanding the late opinion discharging Cunetoo, who was tried for a similar offence.
We have copied on our first page the remarks of several news-papers on the imprisonment of the Missionaries. It is due to these persecuted men, after their characters have been aspersed, and their motives misrepresented, to let the public know in what light of their conduct is viewed by a portion of their fellow citizens. Were we disposed we could fill our sheet with remarks from other papers on the same subject, reprobating the arbitrary measures of Georgia.
The following communication addressed to the Council of the Cherokee Nation, by females residing in Saleqouyee and Pine Log, expresses the sentiment of a vast majority of the people. The fact is they are not influenced by their leaders--they are actuated by the honest conviction of their hearts.
To the Committee and Council.
We the females, residing in Saleqouyee and Pine Log, believing that the present difficulties and embarrassments under which this nation is placed demands a full expression of the mind of every individual, on the subject of emigrating to Arkansas, would take upon ourselves to address you. Although it is not common for our sex to take part in public measures, we nevertheless feel justified in expressing our sentiments on any subject where our interest is as much at stake as any other part of the community.
We believe the present plan of the General Government to effect our removal west of the Mississippi, and thus obtain our lands for the use of the State of Georgia, to be highly oppressive, cruel and unjust. And we sincerely hope that is no consideration which can induce our citizens to forsake the land of our fathers of which they have been in possession from time immemorial, and thus compel us, against our will, to undergo the toils and difficulties of removing with our helpless families hundreds of miles to unhealthy and unproductive country. We hope therefore the Committee and Council will take into deep consideration our deplorable situation, and do everything in their power to avert such a state of things. And we trust by a prudent course their transactions with the General Government will enlist in our behalf the sympathies of the good people of the United States.
October 17th 1821. (sic)
An intelligent Gentleman who has lately been travelling in Texas and Arkansas writes thus, in a letter to a friend in this Nation:
'In Texas I do not like the homage they require to their Priests. The parts of Arkansas I had in view has been ceded in mockery to the Chickasaws and Choctaws, and the whites have been driven out of one or two counties, with as little ceremony as you have been. The people thus treated are of course highly incensed, and no doubt, whenever the population admits the territory to become a state, will instantly serve the Choctaws as the Georgians are doing you, and with better reason, as they have been brought in upon them to secure the votes of Mississippi.'
And again, 'I cannot discover why you should place faith in a new treaty, which promises you independence on the other side of the Mississippi, at the instant of the violation of old treaties which admitted your independence on this side. (Of one thing you should be informed, if not already aware if it, that is, the lands ceded to the Cherokees, Choctaws, and Chickasaws, by the United States, the Mexican Government claim as a part of Mexico. Their maps make the Western line of Arkansas Territory and of Louisiana the same.) It is true you may have some respite given you on the other side of the Mississippi for a few years from the encroachment of the whites, during which time you may make further advances in civilization, but ultimately I do not see what is to prevent your expulsion thence also, on the same principle on which you are threatened to be driven from you old Country.'
On Wednesday Oct. 12th 1831, A meeting of the citizens of Aquohee District, Cherokee Nation, was holden at Highwassee Town House, for the purpose of taking into consideration the present state of the Nation.
Situagee, being called to the chair, the object of the meeting was stated in a speech by Mr. John Timson. Several other speeches were delivered, all expressive of our unshaken determination, firmly,but peaceably to resist every attempt to deprive us of our possessions and our rights, as derived to us from our ancestors and secured to us by Treaties with the United States.
The following resolutions were passed unanimously:
1st. That it is our ardent desire to maintain, unimpaired, those relations of peace and friendship which have so long subsisted between this Nation and the Government and people of the United States.
2d. That it is a subject of deep regret to us, that the Executive of the United States still withholds from us that protection which is solemnly guarantied to us by treaty stipulations, and for which ample compensation has been made to the United States' Government.
3d. That in consequence of the withdrawal of such protection, the most cruel and distressing aggressions are made upon our rights and privileges. Our territory is invaded by armed troops from the State of Georgia; our peaceful citizens are arrested and dragged in chains like felons; intruders are encouraged to take possession of our fields, drive families from their houses, and destroy and plunder them before their eyes in the face of day. The ministers of religion are torn from their churches and families, and after being treated with insult and indignity are committed to an ignominious prison at hard labor for four years.
4th That we solemnly protest against the course pursued by the Executive of the United States in refusing to pay our annuities, and thus attempting to frustrate our efforts to assert our rights in the Supreme Court of the United States.
5th. That we pledge ourselves, individually and collectively, to use our best endeavors to sustain the authorities of the Nation in the maintenance of peace and the assertion of our rights in the Courts of the United States. Therefore we further resolve, that a subscription be immediately opened for the purpose of replenishing the Treasury of the Nation.
Resolved, that we have heard with unfeigned regret of the death of Jeremiah Evarts, Esq. and that we cherish deep veneration for his character, ' for his invaluable efforts in our cause as a free people; and we are persuaded that his name and virtues will live in the memory and the hearts of the Cherokee people to the latest generations.
Resolved, that we learn with sincere sorrow that our highly esteemed friends, Rev. S. A. Worcester and Dr. Butler, missionaries to this nation, have been committed to the Georgia Penitentiary for residing within our territory, for the purpose of teaching our people the way to heaven.
Resolved therefore, that we cordially sympathize with them in all their sufferings, and that we entertain for their persons and character the highest regard, and we cherish the hope that justice will soon restore them to their liberty, their labors and their friends.
The subscriber acknowledges the receipt of $40.06 1-4 cts. contributed by a few citizens of the Cherokee Nation, for the purpose of defraying the expenses of a visit to her husband in prison. To these, and to all who have manifested kindness to her during the late scenes of affliction through which she has been called to pass, she tenders her sincere thanks-desiring that their kindness may receive an eternal reward.
ANN O. WORCESTER.
New Echota Nov. 4, 1831.
For the Phoenix.
Mr. Editor- Ere this the inhabitants of Hickory Log District will have had another overture by the emigrating Agents of our great Father the President, to abandon our present homes for a better country in the wilds of the west. So interested is he for our happiness, he directs his Agents to visit the house of every family, and to well and truly enlightened us as to our true condition, and to say too, it will be for the last time. The Lamb is then to be left to the mercy of the devouring wolf. The other day, this neighborhood was visited by one of the Agents-his best light was shed upon us but to no purpose--we were given over to our fate. State rights, state necessity and the right of discovery were urged. Georgia while a handful of roaming Cherokees scattered over such a large extent of country as this would not suffer it. We are not to have land because we see it from the mountain or pass it in the chase, we were threatened with Georgia's sovereignty, that while her more than cruel laws were brought to bear upon us, no eye would pity, no arm would save; she had the ability and would exercise it in defiance of the powers that be. Her next Legislature would take measures immediately to survey and occupy her vacant lands. She will respect our right of occupancy, but no further than the land we improve or cultivate. This she would reserve to us and no more; and then the nature of her laws would be such as to make this place so hot we could not stand it.
He also observed that, although a friend to Georgia, he had seen in this nation enough to say the Cherokees were doing well, could they but be delivered from Georgia. The agent further remarked, it was white men and their descendants against whom the good people of Georgia were so much exasperated, because in them was embodied all the intelligence of this nation, and that that intelligence of knew it best for us to emigrate, but for sinister motives excited the Indians to remain here in opposition to the humane policy of the Government. These are like the sayings of Georgia, unaccompanied with evidence-it is entirely gratuitous. We believe the best talents of this nation (no matter where) are influenced by the interest of the whole Cherokee people, for we see nothing to induce us to make an exchange of countries-a better than this can never be given us,-it is altogether suitable to our purposes. As to oppression, it can't be much worse that it is, and we are prepared to abide the worst. If Georgia will have the land let her take it. The land is ours, we must and will contend for it.